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ALSACAT:

ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

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Case of Saverne, on January 3, 1979:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1979-01-03-SAVERNE-1

Summary:

The regional newspaper Les Derniers Nouvelles d'Alsace for January 7, 1979, reported that a "trustworthy elderly couple from Saverne" claimed to have seen a UFO in the sky of Saverne, "Wednesday", therefore January 3, 1979, around 6:30 in the morning. From their home, in the rue du Haut-Barr, they had noticed a scintillating object, remaining in place for nearly an hour above the trees at the height of the place called "Pulverkeller". They had plenty of time to distinguish, "even with binoculars, this object which launched fires, an orange ball changing position and placing itself successively at the three vertices of a triangle."

At exactly 7:38 a.m., the UFO had started to move away, heading towards the mountain in the direction of Reinhardsmunster-Molsheim before "disappearing."

The newspaper added that the Saverne gendarmerie was carrying out an investigation, since the UFO phenomenon is taken very seriously by the authorities, and that a specialist in unidentified flying objects "came especially to Saverne", to be, "during this week-end, available to people who may also have witnessed it."

The ufological literature as far as I know would make only two mentions of the sighting, without any details other than the date, time and place.

Then around 2014, the "G.E.I.P.A.N.", service of the Center National des Etudes Spatiales then in charge of the question of unidentified aerospace phenomena, published on the one hand their summary of the case, noting that the witnesses had probably made an astronomical observation of Venus particularly visible in the sky at this time (magnitude 4.46) according to their sky chart; but also, they published the anonymized report of the Gendarmerie finalized on January 8, 1979.

The Gendarmes explained that on January 8, 1979, following various information collected by telephone on January 6, 1978, about sightings of unidentified flying objects, they had begun an investigation. They had heard that an elderly couple had observed a mysterious object in the sky on January 3, 1979. On January 8, 1979, they heard "Mademoiselle D. J.", a retired SNCF employee, who told them that on January 3, 1979, by opening the shutters, with her sister Mrs. B. R., they had observed a brilliant object in the sky in the South-South-East.

The lady explained that the sky was very clear, there were no stars, the day had not yet risen.

She took theater binoculars and saw that the object had the shape of a spray of sparks resembling the starry "top" that one puts on Christmas trees, but much longer, and that there was a ruby-colored half-sphere, sometimes to the right, sometimes below and above, but never to the left of this shower of sparks. She had extended her arm "and from a distance taken on my hand, the object measured about 14 centimeters."

She explained that she could not judge the angle from which she was seeing the object, nor how far away it might be. It was above the trees, about 49 centimeters above the "[-]".

To know the exact time, she had called the speaking clock, and it was 6:50 a.m., the observation lasting until 7:38 a.m., when the object appeared between the branches of a cherry tree, slightly to their right, which allowed them to see that it had moved.

She indicated that the object had become smaller and smaller as the day broke, only a small dot could be distinguished then, and that it "disappeared completely" at 8 a.m.

They had not perceived any noise, the brightness of the object was cold, no radiation illuminated the surroundings, the flickering was white. When it left, it was still moving at the same height and to the south.

As a "couple", the other witness was the lady's sister. She was present when the witnesses heard Miss "D. J.", and having listened to her words, she simply confirmed to the Gendarmes that everything was true.

The gendarmes had inquired about the possible presence of weather balloons at the airfield weather station, and they learned that on January 3, 1979 the winds were fast at high altitude, around 150 knots and 90 to 100 knots on the ground, blowing in a North-West and North-North-West direction.

The weather service informed them that the French meteorological sounding balloons were launched in principle around noon, that they could, weighed down by the frost, drift slowly and very far.

The Gendarmes, or this weather service, it is not clear, commented that the object described was most likely "a meteorite" or a comet, "because the hairy part was always opposite the sun."

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: January 3, 1979
Time: 06:50 a.m.
Duration: 1:30
First known report date: January 6, 2022.
Reporting delay: 2 - 3 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Saverne
Place: Home, rue du Haut-Barr.
Latitude: 48.733
Longitude: 7.347
Uncertainty ratio: 50 m.

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2
Number of known witnesses: 2
Number of named witnesses: 2
Witness(es) ages: Aged.
Witness(es) types: Woman, SNCF retiree, and her sister.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Regional press.
Type of location: Edge of city.
Visibility conditions: Night then day.
UFO observed: Yes.
UFO arrival observed: No.
UFO departure observed: Yes.
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): Yes.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): Yes.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: UFO.

Classifications:

Hynek: Nocturnal Light.
ALSACAT: Venus.

Sources:

[Ref. dna1:] NEWSPAPER "DERNIERES NOUVELLES D'ALSACE":

Scan.

A UFO in the sky of Saverne

An elderly couple of Saverne, trustworthy, said they saw a UFO in the sky of Saverne Wednesday around 6:30 in the morning. From home, in the rue du Haut Barr, they noticed a glittering object, remaining in place for nearly an hour above the trees at the height of the "Pulverkeller" location. They had every opportunity to distinguish, even with the binocular, the object that threw lights, an orange ball changing position and successively placing itself at the three points of a triangle.

At exactly 7:38 a.m., the UFO began to move away, moving down the mountain towards Reinhardsmunster-Molsheim before disappearing.

The gendarmes of Saverne conducted an investigation. A specialist in unidentified flying objects who specially came to Saverne, will, during this weekend, make himself available to people who would also have witnessed this phenomenon. For this UFO phenomenon is taken very seriously by the authorities, who created at the gendarmerie, at national level, a specialized service.

[Ref. gen1:] GENDARMERIE NATIONALE:

Scan.

REGIONAL COMMAND
OF THE NATIONAL GENDARMERIE
OF THE [-] MILITARY REGION

C.C.R.G.d* [-]

Grouping of [-]

Company of [-]

Brigade of [-]

No. 57 of January 8, 1979

ANALYSIS

ADMINISTRATIVE
INFORMATION
U.F.O.

Shipping. (Copy)

01.03.79

FRG. 9.24.79

NATIONAL GENDARMERIE

79306172

MINUTES
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION

This day, sixteenth of January nineteen hundred seventy nine.

We, the undersigned: B[-] A[-], Chief Warrant Officer, Judicial Police Officer.
V[-] A[-], Gendarme, Judicial Police Agent.

of [-].

Having regard to article [-] of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Report the following operations, which we carried out acting in uniform, and in accordance with the orders of our chiefs.

1° PREAMBLE

On Monday, January 8, nineteen seventy-nine, following various information collected by telephone on Saturday, January 6, relating to sightings of unidentified flying objects, we began an investigation.

II - INVESTIGATION

According to this information, an elderly couple observed a mysterious object in the sky on January 3, one thousand nine hundred and seventy-nine.

Proceeding to the investigation, at her home, we heard on January 8, 1979 at 4 p.m.:

Miss D[-] J[-], [-] years old, retired from the SNCF [national railway co] [-], living rue du [-] in [-] who told us:

---- Wednesday morning the third of January nineteen seventy nine, while opening the shutters, with my sister Mrs B[-] -R[-], we observed a brilliant object in the sky in the South-Southeast relative to our house.

.../...

Scan.

.../...

The sky was very clear, there were no stars and it was not yet dawn. By taking a spyglass, we saw that the object had the shape of a sheaf of sparks resembling those of Christmas trees, but much longer. From this sheaf of sparks appeared a ruby-colored half-sphere, sometimes to the right, sometimes up and down, but never to the left. I extended my arm and from a distance taken on my hand, the object measured about 14 centimeters. I cannot assess the angle at which I was seeing this object or how far away it might have been. It was above the trees, about 49 centimeters above the "[-]". To pinpoint the exact time, I dialed the speaking clock on the phone and it was six-fifty. Our observation lasted until seven thirty eight. At that time, we saw it in the branches of a cherry tree, slightly to the right, which allowed us to see that it had moved. ----

It got smaller and smaller as dawn appeared and disappeared completely at eight o'clock. We did not perceive any noise, the clarity of the object was cold, no radiation illuminated the surroundings. The flicker was white. When it left, it was still moving at the same height and towards the south and disappeared from our sight, we could only distinguish a small dot.

I specify that our observation was made with the help of theater binoculars and not with a telescope.

The eighth of January nineteen seventy nine at five forty five. Reading made by me of the statement above, I persist in it and have nothing to change, add or subtract from it.

(Signature in the declaration book)


On the eighth of January nineteen seventy-nine at 5:45 p.m., at her home, we heard:

Mrs. B[-] R[-], [-] years old, retired, living in rue du [-] at [-], who declares to us:

---- I attended the interview with my sister and I confirm exactly what she said.

The eighth of January nineteen seventy-nine at six o'clock. Reading made by me of the statement above, I persist in it and have nothing to change, add or subtract from it.

.../...

Scan.

.../...

On January 9, nineteen seventy-nine at 2:45 p.m., at his workplace, we hear:

Mr. W[-] J[-], [-] years old, toolmaker, living on rue [-] in [-] who declares to us:

---- On Wednesday evening, January 3, 1979, around 7:00 p.m., I returned home with my wife and carried my little boy in my arms. The latter always wanting to look at the moon, I showed it to him and that's how I looked up. Within 3-4 seconds, I saw a tangerine-like ball just above my head. This object was very high and was moving from north to south. It did not look like a shooting star in any way. By the time I told my wife, it was too late. The object had disappeared. I didn't hear any noise. The following Sunday, I saw on the newspaper that there was talk of mysterious objects in the sky and that's how I alerted you.

On the ninth of January nineteen seventy-nine at 5:20 p.m. Reading made by me of the statement above, I persist in it and have nothing to change, add or subtract from it.

From information collected at the meteorological station of the aerodrome of [-], we learned that on the third of January nineteen seventy nine the winds were fast at high altitude, of the order of 150 knots and 90 to 100 knots on the ground.

They were blowing in a northwest and north-northwest direction.

Informed of our investigation, this service informed us that the French meteorological sounding balloons were launched in principle from [-] around noon, but that they could also come from [-]. It happened that these balloons, weighed down by frost, drifted slowly and very far.

As for the characteristics of the object described by Miss B[-], it was very likely that it was a meteorite or a comet, because the hairy part was always opposite the sun.

Scan.

.../...

We are attaching to these minutes a notebook sheet on which Miss B[-] immediately noted her observations, adding a sketch at the bottom of the page.

Six shipments to:

The first, to the Prefect of Region [-], Prefect of [-], at [-].

The second, to the Public Prosecutor at [-]

The third, to the Lieutenant General, Commanding the [-] - [-] Air Region - at [-].

The fourth and the fifth, at the Ministry of the Armed Forces, Directorate of the Gendarmerie and Military Justice, Employment-Information Office.

the sixth, to the archive.

Done and closed at [-], January 16, 1979.

Scan.

January 3, 79 Ufo in [-]?

Around 6:50 a.m. reviews to the eye a scintillating object / comparison about 14 centimeters!

(Stern Spitzen [tip with star] of Christmas tree) in clear starless sky - south southeast direction stayed put over trees of the "[-]"

Until 7:38. Observed with a spyglass - it is presented with a fire red ball ([?]) changing positions (the ball), either on the right side or above or below the object.

at 7:38 a.m. (speaking phone clock) lengthens and moves directly. distinctly south towards the mountains. red ball still in position as above.

8 o'clock is seen as a small luminous dot with a red dot and disappears.

Observed that the object began to move when we saw the dawn rise in front of our position.

[Ref. mft1:] "FRANCAT" - MICHEL FIGUET:

CASE NR CLASSIFICATION DATE TIME PLACE ZIP CODE CREDIBILITY SOURCES
882 CE0 01/07//1978 06:30 Saverne 67700 B3 NI [= Unidentified] pers. comm.

[Ref. eae1:] ERIC ANTOINE:

Note by the investigator.

[...] after research in the archives of "L'Alsace", several observations took place between this period: (source: Nostra + L'Alsace).

[... Other cases...]

c) January 7, 1979. An elderly couple from Saverne claimed to have observed a U.F.O. around 6:30 a.m. from their home. It was a glittering object which remained immobile, above a clump of trees, for nearly an hour. The witnesses had the leisure to look at it with binoculars and so they observed "an orange ball changing position and placing itself successively at the three corners of a triangle". The object ends up moving away towards the mountain. The gendarmerie investigated.

[... Other cases...]

Although some of these observations were later explained, [...]

[Ref. gei1:] GROUPE D'ETUDES ET D'INFORMATIONS SUR LES PHENOMENES AEROSPATIAUX NON IDENTIFIES (G.E.I.P.A.N.):

SAVERNE (67) 1979

Observé le: 01/031979
Region: Alsace
Department: Rhin (Bas)
Class: B
Summary: observations of objects in the sky
Description: On January 3, 1979, two people observed at 6:50 a.m. a bright object at low altitude in the direction of South Southeast. Half spherical and accompanied by a shower of sparks, this object will move gradually and noiselessly to disappear towards the South. These people probably made an astronomical observation of Venus particularly visible in the sky at this time (magnitude 4.46) according to the star chart. A motorist traveling around 7 p.m. will see another flying object that same day. For 3 to 4 seconds he sees a ball moving silently at very high altitude and on a North-South trajectory. This person probably saw a weather balloon but we lack information on this last object.
Report: None.

Details of the testimony
Witness
Date of the observation 01/03/1979
Document number
Age Adult (more than 60)
Profession Retired
Sex Female
Reaction Active Curiosity
Credibility Normal Credibility
Conditions
Environment Home
Weather conditions Clear Sky
Hour of the observation Numbered: 6 a.m. - 8 a.m.
Reference frame Sky or clouds
Distance between phenomenon and witness Not-specified
Start of the observation Start of observation by witness
End of the observation End of observation by phenomenon
Localization
Angle of the site Not-specified
Direction of observation South-East
Heading South
Trajectory Not-specified
Nature of the observation Object
Characteristic of the observation Unique
Global shape Round, circular, ball
Color Luminous (brillant);Others (other colors)
Apparent size Numbered
Apparent speed Not-specified
Noise No noise
Effect on the environment Not-specified
Number 1

Details of the testimony
Witness
Date of the observation 01/01/1979
Document number
Age Adult (more than 60)
Profession Retired
Sex Female
Reaction Active Curiosity
Credibility Normal Credibility
Conditions
Environment Home
Weather conditions Clear Sky
Hour of the observation Numbered: 6 a.m. - 8 a.m.
Reference frame Sky or clouds
Distance between phenomenon and witness Not-specified
Start of the observation Start of observation by witness
End of the observation End of observation by phenomenon
Localization
Angle of the site Not-specified
Direction of observation South-East
Heading South
Trajectory Not-specified
Nature of the observation Object
Characteristic of the observation Unique
Global shape Round, circular, ball
Color Luminous (brillant);Others (other colors)
Apparent size Numbered
Apparent speed Not-specified
Noise No noise
Effect on the environment Not-specified
Number 1

Screenshot.

Screenshot.

[Ref. cvn2:] CHRISTIAN VALENTIN:

Former journalist Christian Valentin published in 2012 a very interesting book telling the story of UFO sightings, flying saucers sightings, in Alsace, from the beginning to 1980.

In this book, he wrote that the newspaper DernièrEs Nouvelles d'Alsace for Sunday, Jaunuary 7, 1979, published this article on the sighting in Saverne on Wednesday, January 3, 1979:

A UFO in the sky of SAVERNE

An elderly couple of Saverne, trustworthy, said they saw a UFO in the sky of Saverne Wednesday around 6:30 in the morning. From home, in the rue du Haut Barr, they noticed a glittering object, remaining in place for nearly an hour above the trees at the height of the "Pulverkeller" location. They had every opportunity to distinguish, even with the binocular, the object that threw lights, an orange ball changing position and successively placing itself at the three points of a triangle.

At exactly 7:38 a.m., the UFO began to move away, moving down the mountain towards Reinhardsmunster-Molsheim before disappearing.

The gendarmes of Saverne conducted an investigation. A specialist in unidentified flying objects who specially came to Saverne, will, during this weekend, make himself available to people who would also have witnessed this phenomenon. For this UFO phenomenon is taken very seriously by the authorities, who created at the gendarmerie, at national level, a specialized service.

[Ref. spa1:] UFOLOGY ASSOCIATION "SPICA":

City Date and hour of observation General shape
Identification
General color
Hypothesis
Conclusion
SAVERNE Wednesday 3 January 1979 at 06:50 p.m. elliptical (3D)
Unidentified
information not communicated
None
Unsolved -lack of info

Discussion:

Map.

All locations are censored in the Gendarmerie report, but the newspaper sheds some light on them. We therefore know that they were in Saverne at their home, in the rue du Haut-Barr, a street leaving Saverne to its south-west. The object was "for almost an hour above the trees at the height of the place called Pulverkeller" ("powder cellar").

Unfortunately, this "Pulverkeller" does not appear on any map I have, nor on the official Fantoir listing (addresses.data.gouv.fr/fantoir).

We are also told that at 7:38 a.m. "exactly, the UFO had started to move away, heading to the mountain in the direction of Reinhardsmunster-Molsheim".

Map.

"Reinhardsmunster-Molsheim" does not exist, there is on the one hand Reinhardsmunster, at 199° of the witnesses, and Molsheim, at 152° of the witnesses.

This "towards the mountain" is amazing. If one can think that the object moved "towards the mountain" while going in the direction of Reinhardsmunster, it is that it drifted towards the right of the witnesses. But Molsheim on the other hand is much more to their left, and if the object had passed from the Reinhardsmunster direction towards Molsheim, it would not have gone "towards the mountain" but would have moved away from the mountain to go to the plain.

I can check where Venus was during the observation.

At 6:50 a.m., at the start of the observation, Venus is at azimuth 141° 45', elevation 17° 24'.

At 8:00 a.m., at the end of the observation, Venus is at azimuth 158° 40', elevation 23° 7'.

Venus had risen at 04:32 a.m., it crosses the meridian at 09:21 a.m., and will set at 02:11 p.m.. Its magnitude was -5.4, with only 41.15% of its surface illuminated.

In all this, what corresponds to the observation is that Venus is there, that it is indeed to the South-South-East, that during the observation it moves but almost horizontally, like the lady said, that its elevation may correspond to a position just above or "in" nearby trees. If it had been much lower, from rue du Haut-Barr, it would have been hidden by the many trees.

Venus moves, little, as the testimony suggests, from the left to the right of the witnesses. This corresponds roughly to Molsheim, and it is "towards the mountain".

There is also a logical explanation for the "disappearance" at 8 a.m.: it is when the day breaks. It is normal for Venus to appear "smaller and smaller" and then "disappear"; it is almost impossible to distinguish it by day.

One thing that doesn't hold at all is this direction of Reinhardsmunster given in the newspaper; it is at 194° from the witnesses, towards the South-South-West. But this is probably not reliable, it can be seen from the fact that the newspaper links "Reinhardsmunster-Molsheim", different places in different directions.

It looks like the lady gave an angled size of 14cm at arm's length. But she must have expressed herself incorrectly, as this would have constituted an absolutely gigantic object or a very very close one. This gives us an angular size of 10 degrees. The angular size of the moon is about half a degree, so the object would have had 20 times the angular size of the Moon... The lady would not have failed to point this out!

The red color, which Venus does not show (it is white, slightly bluish), the "sheaf of sparks" can seem surprising. But the use of unreliable binoculars (theater binoculars) may have been the explanation.

In the end, the Venus explanation seems convincing, especially since the lady did not say she saw both Venus and the UFO.

Evaluation:

Venus.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editeur: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross July 24, 2022 Creation, [dna1], [mft1], [gen1], [gei1], [cvn2], [spa1].
1.0 Patrick Gross July 24, 2022 First published.

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This page was last updated on July 24, 2022.